A MelanieM Review: Blood & Milk by N.R. Walker


Rating: 5 stars out of 5

Blood & MilkHeath Crowley is an Australian man, born with two different coloured eyes and the gift—or curse—of having premonition dreams. He also has nothing left to live for. Twelve months after having his life upended, his dreams tell him where he needs to be. So with nothing―and no one―to keep him in Sydney, he simply boards a plane for Tanzania. Not caring if he lives or dies, Heath walks into a tribe of Maasai and asks to stay. Granted permission, he leaves behind the name and heartbreak of Heath and starts over with the new Maasai name of Alé.

From the day of his birth, Damu has always been an outcast. The son of the chief and brother to the great warrior leader, Damu is reminded constantly that he’s not good enough to be considered a man in the eyes of his people. Ordered to take responsibility for Alé, Damu shares with him the ways of the Maasai, just as Alé shares with Damu the world outside the acacia thorn fence. But it’s more than just a cultural exchange. It’s about trust and acceptance, finding themselves, and a true sense of purpose.

Under the African sky on the plains of the Serengeti, Heath finds more than just a reason to live. He finds a man like no other, and a reason to love.  

I have high expectations of a N. R. Walker story but Blood & Milk just blew them away easily with her story of a broken man finding himself among the Masai people in the Serengeti.  Heath Crowley is a man whose life has been shattered by a hate crime.  Cornered by an angry group of men, Heath and his partner are attacked with horrific results, his long term partner is killer and Heath is left an empty, wounded bitter man.

A moving story all on its own but N.R. Walter gives Heath Crowley another dimension, the ability to dream, to see bits of the future.  Its both a gift and a curse as Heath sees it.  And we see it too…pulled into Heath’s nightmares of the night they were attacked and the visions that give him another path forward.

That vision leads an empty Heath to book a one-way ticket to Tanzania, the Serengeti and the Maasai tribe that includes Damu, another in search of his own sort of healing. I’ll stop here and say that the amount of research Walker must have done is considerable and it shows  down to the smallest of details in the everyday life and as well as Maasai culture that this story is seeped in. Heath is aware of his own cultural judgments and tries to see beyond them when possible when living as one of the Maasai.  This encompasses many levels of stature which I’m not about to get into here as it makes up a large part of this story.  But its so beautifully done.  I sunk myself into the life of the tribe, the children, the interpersonal relationships (good and bad), and forgot that time was passing.

Blood and Milk is told from Heath’s pov which was a wise choice.  I don’t know how much stretching you can do here.  But Damu and the Maasai tribe is vividly represented.  I could see them dancing in celebration, hear them singing, and yes it sent me to find those same dancing myself so I could listen to it and let it mesmerize me as well as it did Heath.

Walker is also well aware of the consequences of being gay in Africa and this story works with that horrific reality too.  What an astounding story.

What can I say?  Blood & Milk by N. R. Walker is mindbogglying wonderful.  Its beautifully written.  The flows along naturally, like a river flowing to the sea, slowing where it needs to, picking up speed and crashing over rocks at places and emptying into a stunning wide open ocean of endless possibilities.  Blood & Milk will be at the top of my Best of 2016  list.  One read  and I’m sure it will be on yours.

I highly recommend it.

Sales Links: The pre-order link for Blood & Milk on Amazon is HERE.

Note:  N.R. Walker is  donating part of Blood & Milk royalties to African Human Rights Coalition who are a proactive group on the ground in Africa, actively helping LGBT people.  For more about this, see her interview with Santa Aziz on N.R. Walker’s Blog

Book Details:

Expected publication: June 23rd 2016
Edition LanguageEnglish


A MelanieM Review: Finding Family by Connie Bailey


Rating: 3 stars out of 5

Finding FamilyWhen you find your family, you’ll do anything to keep it.

When Charles Macquarrie inherits a fortune and an international clothing company, he also inherits three young cousins he desperately needs help raising. By a stroke of luck, he discovers and hires Jonathan Lamb, who spent his life in a children’s home due to chronic illness, to be his nanny.

If Jon thought a budding romance with his wealthy boss complicated his life, he has no idea of the hardships awaiting him when he’s charged with embezzlement and kidnapping. But even when threatened by accounting discrepancies and mob connections, Jon and Charles won’t let go of the family they’ve built together without a fight.

I loved the premise of this story immediately.  Orphan raised by nuns in an orphanage gets the call to become the nanny or manny if you prefer for a millionaire raising  his three young charges, his cousins.  Shades of Sound of Music and any nanny romance story you can think of.  Unfortunately this doesn’t quite measure up (as if anything could) but parts come close to making this a charming story.

Let’s start with the sections and characters I loved and thought  worked well.  Jonathan Lamb, the innocent from the nuns orphanage.  I really liked him.  Lively, interesting.  The author liked him too.  Enough to endow him with interesting traits that were  well researching and fleshed him out as a living, breathing person.  He may have been living life away in small town but it was a full one. Then when his character is meshed with that of three equally wonderful, sometimes snarly, but great kids, and the book was made for me.  I loved everything about that section.  The kids slowly accepting him.  Jon working his way into learning their personalities and their interests, great, great, great.   The wonderful basket weave of family dynamics Jon wove between himself and the children is full of warmth, love, and more than a little reality.  I could have used so much more of this.

And the comparison to them and Charles Macquarrie made his character that much more lacking in about everything.  He lacked, at least for me any sort of charm, or personality other than spoiled.  His friend Bunny came off far better in the warmth and charity department than he did, in fact I adored Bunny.  Switch out Bunny for Charles and the story would have been made…5 stars.

But no we plod along with Charles, and a money mismanagement scheme, and other things that just don’t help in the long run.

There is a instant love between Charles and Jon that is just not believable.  Would Jon really have an affair with his boss if it threatened the first job he’s ever had and would take him away from the children and apparently the only person who cared about them?  No, the author never makes a case for that flaw in Jon’s character.  Its just not believable nor is the connection.  To do that you need time to build it into the story and there’s not enough pages here to  do that.  If it had been made longer, then perhaps so, but not as it is.

So what we end up with is a potentially wonderful story.  I gave it 3 stars for Jon, Bunny and the kids.  They deserved it and a better leading man than Charles.

Cover by Paul Richmond works for the story and for branding the series. Not my favorite however.

Sales Links:   Dreamspinner Press | ARe | Amazon

Book Details:

ebook, Dreamspun Desires #11, 234 pages
Published June 1st 2016 by Dreamspinner Press
Original TitleFinding Family
ISBN 1634771524 (ISBN13: 9781634771528)
Edition LanguageEnglish
CharactersCharles Macquarrie, Jonathan Lamb settingPennsylvania (United States)
New York, New York

A Barb the Zany Old Lady Review: Roped In by Marie Sexton and L.A. Witt


Rating: 4 stars out of 5

Roped InGraham has been riding the rodeo circuit for years, and he and his partner, Jackson, have won the calf-roping championship and set high standards for competitors many times. But this year is different. This year, there’s a complication—a group of animal rights protestors are creating a commotion outside the arena, and more specifically, outside the barn where Graham and Jackson house their horses and Graham intends to stop them. But when he gets face to face with them, he’s halted in his tracks by his sudden attraction to one of the young men. Kaz is a college student, vegan, activist, and gay, and he’s stunned by his attraction to the cowboy who comes out to confront his group. He couldn’t be gay too, could he?

Unwilling to act on his desires for men, Graham keeps them hidden from all but Jackson and now, Kaz. Last year, during the regionals, his long-time love for Jackson led him to accept Jackson’s drunken advances one night, but at the last minute, he chickened out and ran. Now, though he’s still attracted to Jackson, his attraction to Kaz is stronger. And when he bumps into Kaz one night at a local bar, the two go home together after Kaz indicates he’d like to show Graham something. What he shows him is a night of pleasure as Graham submits to being tied with rope and allowing Kaz more than he’s ever allowed another man. But the next morning, after Kaz leaves, Jackson confronts him, and it’s the beginning of the end of their partnership when Graham learns what Jackson has to say about their past encounter and Jackson’s opinion of Graham’s attraction to Kaz.

This is an enjoyable story, and it’s fairly short, though it would have been nice if it was longer. I love both of these authors, and the two together were making those ropes smoke! If you like enemies-to-lovers stories, or you like a little mild bondage in your MM romance, you should enjoy this one. And unlike some novellas with a similar theme, there’s much more here than the romance and sex. The story does a good job of highlighting both sides in the protests about cruelty to rodeo animals and even touches on equine rescue efforts.

Considering the length of the story, I found the characters well-developed—both MCs and Jackson.  In fact, I was hoping there was a follow-up story about Jackson, but there doesn’t appear to be one as this isn’t listed as being the beginning of a series. However, if the authors or publishers are taking votes, count my vote in for a Jackson sequel. I’d love much more of this world, and I’d certainly love to see Jackson emerge from the closet and “rope in” his own man.

Cover art by L.C. Chase is perfect for the story.

Sales Links:  Riptide Publishing | ARe | Amazon

Book Details:

ebook, 2nd edition, 155 pages
Published June 20th 2016 by Riptide Publishing (first published April 20th 2014)
Original TitleRoped In
ISBN 1626494614 (ISBN13: 9781626494619)
Edition LanguageEnglish

L.A. Witt Talks “Research vs Real World Experience” in ‘Roped In’ by Marie Sexton and L.A. Witt( Giveaway)


Roped In

Roped In by Marie Sexton and L.A. Witt
iptide Publishing
Cover by L.C. Chase

Read an Excerpt/Buy It Here


Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words has the pleasure of having the authors of Roped In here today to talk about the issue of research and writing.  Welcome Marie Sexton and L.A. Witt.


Research vs Real World Experience

Roped In is one of those books that required some research, but also tapped into some of my real world experience. No, I’m not talking about the BDSM side of things.

See, I was raised around horses. Some of my earliest memories are of horse shows. I actually have a horse show ribbon of my own from a couple of months before I turned three (my mom was leading the horse), and that isn’t the first horse show I remember. As a teenager, I rode competitively in Washington state, mostly on the Morgan horse circuit. Even though I haven’t competed in a while (really really really need to get back into that…), everything horse is pretty much in my blood.

So… you could say I have some experience with the hooved ones.  More often than not, if my characters are interacting with horses, it’s at least some personal experience talking. I would like to say that isn’t true about the scene in one of my hetero books where a character is trapped inside a trailer with a panicking horse, but no, that scene came from real life. Not really a good way to spend an afternoon, would not do again, 0/5 stars.

Anyway, when it came time to write Roped In, there was also some research needed. After all, I’ve never ridden in a rodeo in my life. I’ve never done roping or anything like it (y’all I can barely tie my shoes). I’ve watched it, and I have friends who do it, but firsthand experience? Not so much. So, I hunted down some of my rodeo-inclined friends, watched some videos online, read what I could get my hands on. (As did Marie, of course!)  For scenes like when Kaz and Graham are trying to rescue a scared and neglected horse, that mostly came from real-world experience.

And writing that book, just like writing After the Fall, only made the “OMG I WANT A HORSE” voice get that much louder in my head. Hopefully that voice will be getting its wish sometime next year. After all, I’ve always wanted an Andalusian horse, and I do live in Andalusia…

About Roped In

Graham and his roping partner, Jackson, have been friends since they were boys. They’ve ruled the rodeo scene for ten years running, but lately, Graham’s heart isn’t in the game. He’s tired of the bruises, the cowboy mentality, and the animal rights activists who picket every event. He’s also tired of being in love with Jackson, and nothing’s been the same between them since their disastrous drunken encounter the year before.

Then Graham has a run-in with one of the rodeo protesters, and everything changes. Kaz is young, idealistic, and sexy as hell. But he’s also a know-it-all, animal-loving vegan, bent on saving the world one cow at a time. They have next to nothing in common, but Graham can’t stop thinking about what might happen if they can stop butting heads long enough to give it a try. Unfortunately, no matter how attracted Graham is to other men, he always panics and runs when the clothes start to come off. But Kaz has an idea for getting Graham past his nerves and into bed.

All they need is a bit of rope.

(Note: This is a re-edited second edition of a previously published title.)

About Marie Sexton

Marie Sexton lives in Colorado. She’s a fan of just about anything that involves muscular young men piling on top of each other. In particular, she loves the Denver Broncos and enjoys going to the games with her husband. Her imaginary friends often tag along.

Marie has one daughter, two cats, and one dog, all of whom seem bent on destroying what remains of her sanity. She loves them anyway.

Connect with Marie:

About L. A. Witt

L.A. Witt is an abnormal M/M romance writer who has finally been released from the purgatorial corn maze of Omaha, Nebraska, and now spends her time on the southwestern coast of Spain. In between wondering how she didn’t lose her mind in Omaha, she explores the country with her husband, several clairvoyant hamsters, and an ever-growing herd of rabid plot bunnies. She also has substantially more time on her hands these days, as she has recruited a small army of mercenaries to search South America for her nemesis, romance author Lauren Gallagher, but don’t tell Lauren. And definitely don’t tell Lori A. Witt or Ann Gallagher. Neither of those twits can keep their mouths shut . . .

Connect with L.A.:



To celebrate the release of Roped In, Marie and L.A. are giving away $20 in Riptide Publishing credit plus one ebook from each of their backlists. Leave a comment with your contact info to enter the contest. Entries close at midnight, Eastern time, on June 25, 2016. Contest is NOT restricted to U.S. entries. Thanks for following the tour, and don’t forget to leave your contact info!

Pre-Release Tour for Picked Fresh by Posy Robert (excerpt and giveaway)

Title: Picked Fresh
Series: Naked Organics #2
Author: Posy Roberts 
Genre: M/M Romance
Publisher: Labyrinth Bound Press
Hudson Oliva loves stability. He was a throwaway teen before finding Kaleidoscope Gardens, but has since thrived at the commune. When Jude Garrity moves in, life gets even better, but Hudson still craves more. He knows he has to be satisfied with their exclusive status being temporary and that Jude will eventually navigate his full sexual awakening with their other housemates.

Hudson has a journey of his own to make. It might only require going home to settle his grandmother’s estate, but he plans to use his time away to figure out how to temper his feelings for Jude and bury his jealousy once and for all. But when Jude joins him on his trip, Hudson falls even deeper in love, especially after Jude stands by his side when he finally confronts his mother for rejecting him.

However, it’s not all hearts and flowers while they travel. They’re over two thousand miles from home when Hudson learns a ruthless corporate farm threatens the commune they both love. In order to save their way of life, Hudson must ask his mother for help. And if he wants a chance at a stable future with Jude, he has to tell him the truth about his feelings, no matter if it ruins the harmony he’s tried so hard to preserve.


Jude shifted in his seat and stared at Hudson. Hudson couldn’t take his eyes off the road, but the desire to turn toward Jude and mirror him was overwhelming. “What was your first impression of me when I met you at the farmers market?”

“Should I be diplomatic or honest?”


Hudson ran that day over in his mind. It was crystal clear, still, even though it had been more than nine months ago. Jude had meandered from stand to stand. He initially stood out from the crowd because of what he was wearing: a bright blue, almost turquoise wool coat over a black turtleneck and tight black jeans. In the blur of quilted plaid flannel and fleece hoodies in various shades of drab, olive, and Carhartt, Jude was all Hudson could see.

“I couldn’t keep my eyes off you. You were… stunning.” He shook his head. “I don’t know another word for it. I was talking to some customer about how we raised our chickens, and when I saw you, I stopped midsentence. I stared, felt like a dirty old man because you looked so young, and when I turned back to the woman to carry on our conversation, I had no idea what we’d been talking about. Literally none. It was like looking at you sucked the words out of my throat and the thoughts right out of my head.”

Jude chuckled. “Seriously? Was it the coat?”

“It made you stand out, but no, it wasn’t the coat. It was everything about you. Your broad shoulders and your hair and your eyes and your fucking lips.”

“You like my lips?” Jude pulled his rose-flavored lip stuff out of his front pocket and made a show of smearing it across the bottom one. Then he rubbed his lips together and licked them, all while staring at Hudson with soft bedroom eyes.

The bus vibrated, a jagged noise piercing Hudson’s ears as he drove too far to the right, edging his tires onto the rumble strip. “¡Coño!” He maneuvered back into the center of his lane.

Jude laughed. Hudson’s heart thundered against his rib cage.

“You’re evil,” Hudson said. “Evil, I tell you!”

“Maybe.” Jude bit at his bottom lip.

“Stop. Stop tempting me with your fucking gorgeous mouth. I can’t have you doing that shit while I’m driving.”

“Okay.” Jude smirked but kept his tongue and teeth from doing anything else. He put away those hazel sex-eyes too. “So, how did you see this trip going down?”

“Just like that?” Hudson was incredulous.


“You can just turn it on and off like a switch?”

“With you, sure.”

“Well, I can’t.” Hudson gestured to his crotch, where his dick was obvious, thick, and quickly moving on its way to fully hard, even though Jude had stopped the licking and the biting.

“Want me to touch you?” Jude’s voice was breathy as he slid his warm palm up Hudson’s inner thigh. He thumbed over the head of Hudson’s cock, and Hudson got harder. Jude played with just the head, moving back and forth, his touch light and delicious.

“Want me to drive off the road?” Hudson managed not to sound choked off.

“No.” Jude pulled his hand away and smiled like the devil. “I want you to drive. And I want you to tell me about what you want to do on this trip besides the obvious. And for the record, turning it off doesn’t happen like a switch. Turning me on with one look, easy!”

“You’re dangerous.”

“Damn right I am.”


Interested in reading how Hudson ended up living at Kaleidoscope Gardens? Read Naked Origins—Hudson for free. This is not a romance, but for those who want to dig a little deeper, this story covers much of Hudson’s history that is hinted at in Picked Fresh. Visit https://posyroberts.com/2016/02/02/free-read-naked-origins/ to read the summary and download it.
Title: Farm Fresh
Series: Naked Organics #1
Author: Posy Roberts 
Genre: M/M Romance
Publisher: Labyrinth Bound Press 
Posy Roberts writes about the realistic struggles of men looking for love. Whether her characters are family men, drag queens, or lonely men searching for connections, they all find a home in her stories.

Posy is a Jill of all trades and master of the drill and paintbrush. She’s married to a partner who makes sure she doesn’t forget to eat or sleep during her writing frenzies. Her daughter, a budding author and cinematographer, helps her come up with character names. For fun, Posy enjoys crafting, hiking, and singing spontaneously about the mundane, just to make regular life more interesting.

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